Art & Design Interviews

Gee By The Sea: From Artist to Entreprenuer

There's so much more to being an artist than the work you put out. We chatted to Cornwall-based artist Georgie Harrison about how to turn your art from a passion into a way of life.

There is a common misconception made about artists in every field; and that is the idea that we only have one job: to create art. If your work is good enough, somehow it will magically appear in galleries or be played on the radio for example. This is not the case. Artists have to learn to function as a business and create a brand and, for Cornwall-based artist Georgie Harrison, this became apparent early on in the process. In this interview, we learnt so much about her creative process, new beginnings and art as sustainable way of life.

The Curve: What inspired you to start painting?
 
Georgie: Ever since I was younger I’ve always loved to paint – some say it’s in the genes. My family is full of creatives, in fact, since the pandemic hit my Mum, Grandma, (often my little brother) and I have painted together weekly over FaceTime – to begin with it was our way of catching up during lockdown, little did we know it would become part of our weekly routines.
 
I have a “magpie” attitude when it comes to inspiration, I source it from all sorts of things. It can come from walks I’ve been on, conservations I’ve had, places I’ve visited, dreams I’ve had. However going back to the question in hand, what inspired me to START painting, (or perhaps it should be what inspired me to start painting again and launch myself as an Artist) – Cornwall inspired me to start painting!

One of many stunning spots in Cornwall

TC: How did you make the change from a travel company to full-time painter?

G: This was surprisingly an easy transition. Before forming the company positioned in the travel industry I was on the Launchpad Programme, a tech incubation space for start-ups, the programme offers you a masters in entrepreneurship which aided me to launch my own business. I simply took everything I’d learnt from the programme and applied it to my Art. 

TC: What is it about Cornwall that’s so special?

G: The fact that I’m inspired anywhere I go in Cornwall – in the north you have a sweep of enormous golden sands with giant Atlantic rollers. And in the wonderful south of Cornwall, everything is slightly more delicate, fed by rivers from the high moorlands, leafy estuaries and quaint beaches. Also the fact that there’s so many other artists down here in Cornwall, there’s a real sense of community and support for young emerging Artists. 

“I’m inspired anywhere I go in Cornwall.”

 TC: Do you have any particular painters that you admire or inspire you?

G: All artists inspire me in different ways. Someone who particularly stands out to me though is Scott Denholm, a rapidly emerging and award winning ocean artist. Not only is his art captivating in his use of light and strong colours, Scott’s art also helps bring awareness to environmental issues. 

TC: Tell us about your trip to China. It’s such a huge step. What was the experience like and what have you taken from it going forward?

G: When I was designing out in China it was mainly graphic design work. It was a huge experience, it really did teach me all sorts of life lessons, the most important being, as cliché as it may sound, you’ve got to fail to succeed. Reflecting back the timing just wasn’t right for me, on my Masters they taught us that every successful business has three main elements: timing, team and product. If one of them isn’t right, the business will most likely fail. The experience itself taught me how to talk to buyers, how to reach out to shops, how to wholesale, how to work with suppliers, all of which has helped me on my path today as a budding Artist.

TC: On your website, it says that you made the transition from a “traditional artist to being a tech-driven creative”. Can you explain this more and what it means to your career as an artist?

G: I suppose I just got more savvy in the tech world!! I can now prototype apps, web apps, websites. I learnt a lot around UX and UI (user experience and user interaction), involving the design of the entire process of integrating a product, including branding, design, the usability and function; which was an essential part of the foundations to creating my own business and website. 

When it comes to starting up your own business as an Artist there’s so much more to it than painting pretty pictures, suddenly you have to wear a tonne of different hats – sales, accountant, marketer, producer, packer and more. Technology is everywhere and anywhere you go people are using technology, so for me starting out my career in the Artworld it was a really important transition when it came to learning about digital innovation. 

“There’s so much more to it than painting pretty pictures, suddenly you have to wear a tonne of different hats.”

TC: How do you combine art and business in a way that is financially sustainable?

G: Early on I made a business plan with a section on how my artwork was going to make money and if my type of Artwork was going to be a viable commodity in the first place. Customer segmentation enabled me to get a good feel of my potential customers and their buying processes. In order to make my business model financially sustainable, I introduced multiple revenue streams, a few examples are commissions, galleries, gift shops, art licensing, art fairs, print on demand and tutorials. 

In order to make my business more sustainable overall my suppliers are all local, I use local materials for painting on, a local framer and a local printing company. I think it’s so important to support small businesses around you and increase the resilience of the economy of our local communities.

TC: How important is social media for you building your audience and promoting your products?

G: The most important tool of all! No other platform boosts your visibility among potential customers like social media does, not only is it important for promoting my products, it’s also super amazing for building customer relationships. 

TC: Could you give some advice for anyone else looking to make the leap into pursuing art as a career? What is important to keep in mind and did you have any issues when you began?

G: Just do it. You learn along the way.. but my best advice is to never undervalue yourself, your time and your talent. 

You can follow Georgie’s journey here:

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